Nam Manchester, Unit 2, 33 Blossom St, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 6AJ – Visit Now
Restaurant review: NAM is widely known for being one of the jewels in the Ancoats crown, serving up some of the best Vietnamese food in Manchester from its great-looking space on Cutting Room Square. And just in time for summer, the NAM team has launched a new menu, full of mouthwatering dishes infused with a dash of inspiration.
Thick chunks of glorious steak, soft but potent, bursting with sesame, soy and lime flavours
Some of the old favourites are still there, such as the classic bao bun and chicken wings, but these new additions more than match up. From the small plates section, the pan-fried pak choi is simply marvellous. It’s beautifully cooked and served up with a subtle blend of preserved beancurd and crispy garlic dressing, with some fiery hot chilli slices scattered about for good measure. If you’re looking for a hearty, delicious vegan dish, this is the one.
The steamed clams Saigon style are a great little option too. Expect a dozen of so delicate molluscs, served in their shells and drizzled with a superbly balanced blend of flavours, including peanuts, turmeric and lime. It doesn’t get much more moreish than this.
Also from the small plates, the Bo Luc Lac shakin’ beef. Now, what does the shakin’ mean? I spent much of the meal bothering my guest and the staff, to no avail, but don’t worry, I’ve uncovered the truth (via Google): The dish gets its name from the vigorous shaking and stirring required to achieve an even and thorough sear. Don’t say we don’t teach you anything. Anyway, it’s great – thick chunks of glorious steak, soft but potent, bursting with sesame, soy and lime flavours, all thanks to that vigorous shaking and stirring. This dish is a must-try.
The roasted sea bream is another soon-to-be classic NAM dish. It’s an entire sea bream, head and all, roasted to the precise minute it becomes perfectly cooked, then coated with a mouth-tingling tomato and anchovy dressing and scattered with coriander and chilis. It’s a dramatic-looking dish and tastes as great as it looks.
Finally, the ribs. But these aren’t just any ribs, these are Xa Xiu pork ribs, and there are a lot of them, pleasingly. Even better, there’s more delicious, crispy, salty meat on these than pretty much any ribs I’ve had before. But it’s the sauce is what makes them truly shine. It’s a Shaoxing and sesame marinade, plus a honey and ginger caramel glaze, and a little fennel slaw salad on the side. At £13, these deliver great bang for your buck.
NAM always gets things right, whether it’s the cocktail menu (see below) or adding new dishes to the menu while making sure to keep the best of the original menu. These new options are a fine addition and absolutely worth a visit or two or three.
Cocktails review: Beyond the food, NAM has a superb downstairs space, complete with state-of-the-art soundsystem and regular DJs, such as local legend Levi Love, plus a menu packed with some of the greatest cocktails in the city.
You’re guaranteed to find your new favourite drink here, soundtracked by the city’s best soundsystem
This consists of a dozen or so concoctions, carefully designed and curated by bar manager Nicola Wilding. And curated is the only word to describe these special drinks. Rather than a gaudy explosion of food colouring and gimmicks, these are deeply satisfying drinks, perfectly balanced to deliver a range of complementary flavours with each sip. Oh, and they look great too.
The Pandan White Russian is a must-try, especially if you’re looking for a dessert-style drink on a hot day. The pandan (also known as the vanilla of Southeast Asia) gives the drink a gentle green hue, and combined with cream and coconut, plus white chocolate Mozart and creme de cacao, comes together to create something complex and eye-openingly delicious.
This kind of thinking can be found throughout the menu, with one or two great cocktails based around each of the major spirits: whisky, rum, tequila, gin and vodka.
Like your drinks sourer than one of those probably now-illegal gobstoppers you had as a kid? Go straight for the yuzu and pineapple sour, from the rum section. The use of grapefruit bitters takes the tartness to all-new cheek puckering heights, which might not be for everyone, but my drinking buddy and I both loved it.
Then there’s Eternal Spring. A blend of Japanese vodka, rose, lychee, cranberry, lemon and sparkling sake, it tastes exactly as it sounds: stunning. It takes true skill to balance these ingredients in a way that nothing dominates, but everything plays its part, and that’s exactly what’s going on here.
But these are just a few of the drinks on offer – if you’re a cocktail-lover you’re guaranteed to find your new favourite drink here, soundtracked by the city’s best soundsystem. If you thought NAM was just about great food, think again – the cocktails are just as wonderful, if not better.